It was just one more segment to fill out the hour, and thereby fill the long 24 hours of Saturday’s cable news on November 2. Or so it seemed. Navy SEAL Mike Ritland was on the Fox News program Watters World to talk to Jesse Watters about trained German shepherds like the one used in the raid that found al-Baghdadi. As the segment was wrapping up, he asked if he could sneak in a little “PSA real quick” The host nodded genially, “Real quick.” Ritland went into a standard warning that many novice dog owners should not try to buy a German shepherd bred for military service. He says people interested in them should buy a “fully trained or finished dog. Or just don’t buy them.” And then a smile creeps across his face, as he says, “And . . . Epstein didn’t kill himself.”
For those puzzled, Ritland (and everyone else) is referring to Jeffrey Epstein, the known pedophile and suspected hedge funder who palled around with a few heaping handfuls of other hedge funders, as well as Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Bill Gates, and occasionally Donald Trump. He lived in Manhattan’s largest private residence. He was heavily involved in scientific research, including his plan to “seed [the] human race with his DNA.” Epstein had a private airplane dubbed “Lolita Express,” which he flew to a private island dubbed Pedophile Island. He seemed to have gotten away with his crimes once before with a slap on the wrist.
Subsequent reporting showed every kind of irregularity. No video surveillance. Falsified prison logs to cover for contract guards who literally slept on the job. Some marks on his body were more consistent with strangulation than hanging, it was said. This evidence could be resolved by reference to the desperate method by which he may have hanged himself. But author and journalist Walter Kirn summed up the mood of certain news watchers after Epstein’s death, writing, “Sometimes paranoia just stands to reason.”
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But jest can have a serious point. Sharing “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” memes because you believe paranoia stands to reason, or because you think they are funny, is a kind of practice for saying, “I think our leadership class and our institutions are capable of every corruption and depravity.” It signals to the world that you are willing to be caught saying this, which is now and in all times one of the more subversive things that can be thought or said.
If there really is a them, and they really did kill Epstein — as Robach believes and Kirn suspects — maybe they should be scared that it’s fun and fashionable to say so.